With a 2-1 league record, with wins against Alvarez and York High Schools and a loss to Pacific Grove, the San Benito High Boys Water Polo team is trying to rebuild following a difficult season last year, which was complicated by COVID restrictions that forced a shorter than normal preparation time and fewer games.
“Last year did not go really well,” said San Benito High Junior Taylor Smith, who has been playing varsity for two years now. “We were a small team, and because all of our seniors had left, we were a JV team playing at a varsity level so we lost every game.”
The current varsity team is made up primarily of last year’s players and head coach Brendan Sigourney is working to develop them as a more unified team, with an eye toward a good conclusion this year and the potential to do better next season.
“This is a down year for us,” he said. “I don’t want to give a rosy assessment but last year hurt us and some of these guys have never played before. But this is a growing year for us as well. Everyone is getting swim time and everyone is working hard. Our hope is that they can play in the off-season and continue to get better.”
Sigourney has an asset in his assistant coach Dylan Perry, a Baler alumnus and former player. He has been assisting for a season and a half and said that things are looking promising.
“We really did start off as a young team,” Perry said. “We have struggled a bit but we have definitely picked up some after some tough times. There have been some things going wrong that we are all working to address. We have had some bad passing, but even the best teams will still have bad passes. And we have to get a lot more aggressive because water polo is a very aggressive sport at heart.”
In his third year on the varsity team, senior Jacob Hanson is optimistic.
“COVID’s impact on the team last year definitely hurt us,” he said. “With that short season, we all lost a lot of time that we could have been playing. I think we started pretty rough but I like where we are going. We are not passing super well and we are still trying to figure out how to get the ball moving.”
Sigourney says there are a lot of positives to work with and a lot of room for improvement.
“We are doing a lot of things right,” he said. “Everyone is moving well in the water and getting lots of opportunities for the shots we want. But often we are getting close and then getting blocked at the last moment. Or that last pass sometimes is just not there. But these kids have a lot of heart and there is not a single negative kid on the team.”
The athletes’ ability to work together positively may be one of their greatest assets this year.
“I think we are getting to know each other better as a team,” said Hanson. “But we have to figure out how to work together better as a team. I think if we keep going the way we are going, we should get close to the top. We might even win the championship.”
Smith believes hard work is beginning to make a difference.
“We are basically the same team this year,” he said. “But compared to last year, our passing and shooting have improved. We are more conditioned and we have gotten a lot more practice. We just have to keep getting better and keep winning games.”
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